Table of Contents
ContentsList of IllustrationsAcknowledgementsIntroductionChapter
1: Terror and ErrorChapter 2: Recasting the AntiquaryChapter 3: Ex
CathedraChapter 4: A Desideratum of WingsChapter 5: To the
CuriousAfterword: Professions of ReticenceNotesSelected
About the Author
Patrick J. Murphy is Associate Professor of English at Miami
University (Oxford, Ohio) and the author of Unriddling the
Exeter Riddles, also published by Penn State University
"Any Jamesian will be surprised at how much new light Murphy casts
on these eerie tales of revenants and demons."
-Michael Dirda, Washington Post
"Demonstrates a kind of scholarly curiosity that one hopes M. R.
James himself would have approved."
-A. S. G. Edwards, Times Literary Supplement
"Murphy's interesting book shows that perhaps M.R. James' stories
were more than just idle pieces of entertainment."
-John DeNardo, Kirkus Reviews
"For anyone interested in James, the scholar, this book is an
essential read; it presents much that is new, is fascinating
throughout, and offers perceptive analysis of James's unparalleled
wisdom in the field."
-Peter Bell, Ghosts & Scholars M. R. James Newsletter
"This book is a pleasure to read: beautifully written and
presented. It is never less than thoroughly eloquent."
-David Matthews, Review of English Studies
"In this thorough, eloquent, and convincing study, Patrick Murphy
sheds important new light on one of the most renowned medievalists
of the early twentieth century and on the means by which the Middle
Ages continue to remake, and be remade by, popular culture."
-Karl Fugelso, editor of the journal Studies in
"This book goes further than any other in making sense of M. R.
James's dual identity as a medieval scholar and a ghost-story
writer. In elucidating some of the hidden meanings in James's
classic ghost stories, Patrick Murphy makes ingenious connections
between antiquarian fiction and the emergence of medieval studies
in the early twentieth century."
-Shane McCorristine, author of The Hand of Glory: Folklore,
Crime, and Fiction
"The very best part of this book is the way in which both
authors-Patrick Murphy and M. R. James-unravel puzzles that others
have avoided or perhaps not even recognized as significant. Readers
will admire the scholarship behind the solving of these puzzles and
will also take great pleasure in following Murphy's line of
reasoning, which reveals what the subtle scholar-storyteller James
is after. Reading this book is like following the adventures of
those on a quest, or the unraveling of clues in a really good
-Marijane Osborn, coauthor of Beowulf: A Likeness
"There are some seminal studies that have shed light on the genesis
and development of medieval studies: Ulrich Wyss's work on Jacob
Grimm, Tom Shippey's on J. R. R. Tolkien, and Michelle Warren's on
Joseph Bedier. Patrick Murphy's book completes these other studies
by telling the story of M. R. James, a fascinating medievalist
forefather working at the exact moment of transition from English
antiquarianism and extra-academic medievalist enthusiasms to a
medieval studies almost entirely exclusive of writers, artists, and
musicians. Murphy's meticulously researched narrative provides
ample proof that both enterprises, the creative and the scholarly
reception of medieval culture, should not be viewed as mutually
exclusive but richly symbiotic."
-Richard Utz, president, International Society for the Study of
the History of Medievalism
"Patrick Murphy's deeply researched and wittily written book puts
James's work in the context of the development of medieval studies
and, more broadly, an academic culture in transition and the great
loss and unimaginable changes wrought by the Great War. By
delineating the entanglement of various competing
timelines-antiquarian, professional, and institutional, for
example-in James's endeavors, Murphy compellingly illuminates a
profound disquiet haunting this liminal figure and his famous
-Carolyn Dinshaw, author of How Soon Is Now?: Medieval Texts,
Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time
"Until comparatively recently, the prevailing critical consensus on
James's fiction could be characterised by Julia Briggs's insistence
that, though masterfully entertaining and obviously the work of a
learned scholar, his tales were superficial edifices with little to
offer the serious literary critic. Perhaps paradoxically, in
resolutely laying bare the sheer elusiveness of James's
fictions-their absolute refusal to settle into one final
'meaning'-Murphy has fashioned a rich, allusive study, which
demonstrates just how fertile a field for theoretical and
historical enquiry these endlessly fascinating tales can be."
-Dewi Evans, Irish Journal of Gothic & Horror Studies